Frequently Asked Questions
What is Bottled Water?
Water is classified as “bottled water” if it meets all applicable federal and state standards, is sealed in a sanitary container and is sold for human consumption. Bottled water cannot contain sweeteners or chemical additives (other than flavors, extracts or essences) and must be calorie-free and sugar-free. Flavor extracts and essences – derived from spice or fruit – can be added to bottled water, but these additions must comprise less than one percent by weight of the final product. Beverages containing more than the one-percent by-weight flavor limit are classified as soft drinks, not bottled water. In addition, bottled water may be sodium-free or contain “very low” amounts of sodium. Some bottled waters contain natural or added carbonation.
What are the different types of bottled water?
There are several different varieties of bottled water. The product may be labeled as bottled water, drinking water or any of the following terms. The Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) product definitions for bottled water are:
Artesian Water/Artesian Well Water:
Bottled water from a well that taps a confined aquifer (a water-bearing underground layer of rock or sand) in which the water level stands at some height above the top of the aquifer.
Bottle water containing not less than 250 parts per million total dissolved solids may be labeled as mineral water. Mineral water is distinguished from other types of bottled water by its constant level and relative proportions of mineral and trace elements at the point of emergence from the source. No minerals can be added to this product.
Water that has been produced by distillation, deionization, reverse osmosis or other suitable processes and that meets the definition of purified water in the United States, Pharmacopeia may be labeled as purified bottled water. Other suitable product names for bottled water treated by one of the above processes may include “distilled water” if it is produced by distillation, “deionized water” if the water is produced by deionization, or “reverse osmosis water” if the process used is reverse osmosis. Alternatively, purified drinking water or distilled drinking water are synonymous with purified water.
Sparkling Bottled Water:
Water that after treatment and possible replacement with carbon dioxide contains the same amount of carbon dioxide, it had at emergence from the source. (An important note: soda water, seltzer water and tonic water are not considered bottled water. They are regulated separately, may contain sugar and calories, and are considered soft drinks.)
Bottled water derived from an underground formation from which water flows naturally to the surface of the earth. Bottled spring water must be collected only at the spring or through a borehole tapping the underground formation finding the spring. There must be a natural force causing the water to flow to the surface through a natural orifice. Spring water collected with the use of an external force must be from the same underground stratum as the spring and must have all the physical properties, before treatment, and be of the same composition and quality as the water that flows naturally to the surface of the earth.
Bottled water from a hole drilled or otherwise constructed in the ground, which taps the water of an aquifer.
How do I know bottled water is safe?
A level by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and on the state level by state officials. This ensures that all bottled water sold in the United States meets these stringent standards. In addition, members of the International Bottle Water Association (IBWA), who produce about 85% of the bottled water sold in the United States, must meet strict industry standards established by the association. These standards, contained in the IBWA “Model Code,” exceed the FDA regulations currently in place for bottled water.
To ensure that all their bottled Water is as safe as possible and of the highest quality, all IBWA members use one or more of the following re-barrier practices: source protection and monitoring, reverse osmosis distillation filtration, ozonation and disinfection. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), bottled water has never been responsible for an outbreak of waterborne illness.
How is bottled water different from tap water?
Bottled water is different from tap water in many different ways. The big difference between the two is the source of the water. While municipalities generally draw their water supply from surface water which may be subject to contamination, most bottled water (more than 75% comes from protected, underground sources.
Another noticeable difference is the fact that bottled water does not contain any chlorine. In place of chlorine, some bottlers use ozone, a form of oxygen or ultraviolet light as the final disinfecting agent. Chlorinated water sometimes contains an off taste, and many consumers prefer the taste of bottled water where no trace of chlorine is found.
How do I know that Cryptosporidium is not in my bottled water?
By law, these sources must be protected from surface intrusion and other environmental influences. This requirement ensures that surface water contaminants such as Cryptosporidium and Giardia are not present.
The second source water type is approved potable municipal supplies. Bottled water companies that use these sources reprocess this water using methods such as distillation, reverse osmosis, deionization and filtration. This ensures that the finished product is very different – in composition and taste – from the original source water.
All IBWA member companies that use municipal supplies are encouraged to employ at least one of three processing methods recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for effective removal of microbial (surface water) contaminants, including Cryptosporidium. These processing methods are reverse osmosis, one micron absolute filtration, and distillation.
Is bottled water regulated?
Bottled water is regulated as a food product by the FDA Bottled water companies must adhere to the FDA’s Good Manufacturing Practices, Quality Standards, and Standards of Identity.
All bottled water products must comply with the FDA’s Quality Standards in Section 103, 35 (d)(2) of Title 21 of the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR). These standards, along with the FDA’s Good Manufacturing Practices, ensure the safety of all bottled water products from production to packaging to consumption.
FDA’s labeling rules for bottled water establish standards of identity and standardized definitions for terms found on bottled water labels such as “spring,” “artesian,” “well,” “mineral,” “purified,” and “distilled.” Seltzer, soda water, and tonic water are considered soft drinks; they are excluded from these regulations.
Good Manufacturing Practices:
Bottled water is subject to both General Food Good manufacturing practices (GMPs) and GMPs specific to bottled water processing and bottling. General food GMPs govern such areas as plant and ground maintenance, sanitary maintenance of buildings and fixtures, and sanitary facilities, including water supply, plumbing and sewage disposal. Bottled water GMPs provide detailed regulations governing plant construction and design sanitary facilities and operations, equipment design and construction, production and process controls specific to the production and processing of bottled drinking water, and record keeping.
All European exporters must meet the federal and state standards as applicable. They must also meet strict standards set by the European Union. International bottler members that sell products in theU.S. must submit a certificate of inspection to IBWA.
In addition to FDA’s extensive regulatory requirements, the bottled water industry is subject to state regulatory requirements. A significant responsibility of the state is inspecting, sampling, analyzing and approving sources of water. Under the federal GMP’s only approved sources of water can be used to supply a bottling plant. Another area in which some states have important responsibilities that complement federal regulation is the certification of testing laboratories. As with any food establishment, the states perform unannounced spot inspections, and some states perform annual inspections.
In addition to the state and federal standards for bottled water, IBWA bottler members are subject to another level of oversight. As a condition of membership, bottlers must submit to an annual, unannounced plant inspection administered by an independent, internationally recognized third-party inspection organization. This inspection audits quality and testing records, reviews all areas of plant operation from source through finished product, and checks compliance with FDA Quality Standards and Good Manufacturing Practices and any state regulations.
IBWA Model Code:
IBWA has established a quality assurance program: a strict set of standards called the Model Code. The Model Code establishes tougher requirements that federal and state authorities.
Do imported waters have to meet the same federal, state, and industry regulations as bottled water?
Yes, Any imported bottled water sold in the United States Must meet all of the same regulations as domestically produced bottled water.
Is bottled water regulated differently from tap water?
Yes, Bottled water is regulated by FDA as a food product and must meet all applicable food packaging regulations. Tap water is regulated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and is regarded as a utility.
Does bottled water contain any chlorine or harmful chemicals?
How long can I store bottled water?
The Food and Drug Administration has not established a shelf life for bottled water. Bottled water can be used indefinitely if stored properly.
What is the proper way to store bottled water?
Bottled water should be stored in a dark, cool (room temperature), dry environment, away from chemicals such as household cleaning products, and away from solvents such as gasoline, paint thinners, and other toxic materials.
How can I find out if the bottled water that I drink is a member of IBWA?
The easiest way to find out if your favorite bottled water brand is a member of IBWA is to Call 1-800-WATER-11 (1-800-928-3711) You can then receive a list of IBWA-member brands. You can also contact this number if you have any other questions or if you would like to receive more information about bottled water.
What is IBWA?
The International Bottled Water Association (IBWA) is the trade association representing the bottled water industry, Founded in 1958, IBWA’s member companies produce and distribute 85 percent of the bottled water sold in the United States. Our membership includes U.S. and International bottlers, distributors and suppliers.
How Should I Clean my Water Cooler?
- Unplug water cooler.
- Remove bottle from cooler.
- Drain any remaining water in cooler through cold faucet. Do NOT drain hot water from hot & cold model – hot tank must remain full.
- Swab interior of reservoir with paper towel.
- Mix 4 quarts of warm tap water and ½ tsp. of vinegar solution while you wait.
- Add additional warm tap water if needed to fill reservoir to it’s rim. Let stand for three minutes.
- Wash exterior of cooler and drip tray with diluted vinegar solution while you wait.
- Drain reservoir through cold faucet.
- Rinse reservoir with two gallons of warm tap water, and drain both cold and hot faucets. Use Bottled water for the final rinse. Rinse until vinegar smell is gone.
- Install a new delicious bottle of Chippewa Spring Water or Kandiyohi Drinking Water. Make certain water flows through faucets before plugging the cooler back in.